Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell, you are so good at everything.

Fangirl is Rowell’s newest book, a YA novel about Cath. And because I’m a little lazy, here’s the description from Amazon:

In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
 

Rowell does such an incredible job at sucking me into the worlds she creates – in Nebraska, no less. I read this book in two days, easily devouring up the words. I really liked Cath, for the most part – she’s introverted, shy, but a little sassy too. I liked Levi, too – he had that Southern good guy charm that reminded me just a little bit of Lincoln from Attachments. I liked that Cath’s problems and family issues were kind of normal, and resolved in normal ways. No magic fixes. I liked Cath’s love of taco trucks, and Kanye West, and the internet.

Even though I really liked Fangirl a lot, there were a couple things that I didn’t quite like. I didn’t really love the Simon Snow & Simon Snow fanfiction excerpts sprinkled between the regular chapters. Like, I get that Simon Snow is similar to HP in it’s fandom crazyness, but I didn’t need snippets from the books or from Cath’s fanfiction to appreciate it, especially since I’m not really into fanfiction. Those parts felt like filler. Also, Levi was a little too perfect. I adored him as a character and my goodness, girls should absolutely aim to have a Levi-like boyfriend. But he had pretty much zero flaws, which made him seem a little unreal. That being said, the best parts of the book were usually the parts with him, because he was funny and I liked his banter with Cath.

Lastly, this is the thing that disappointed me the most, but it’s spoiler-y, so highlight it to read: I feel like Cath’s problems suddenly started to go away once her & Levi started dating, and she didn’t actually evolve or grow as a character. She didn’t grow out of the Simon Snow world at all, she still seemed pretty introverted, and she didn’t grow away from Wren really. But really, my issue is that dating Levi seemed to be the thing that turned her life around, as if she needed a boy to help her solve her issues and deal better with her anxiety. The way it was written, I feel like if they broke up, she would be a crumpled mess all over again. And the book ended so abruptly – did her and Levi last? Did she go on to write anything else besides fan fiction? Did she eventually mature a bit?

So. Still a great story, and freaking wonderful as far as YA goes. But I think Eleanor & Park was a lot greater, even if it was a bit sadder. And Attachments is still my favorite, probably just because I prefer reading about adults to reading about teens. Teens are so emotional and dramatic and self-concious- Rowell portrays teenagehood fantastically, but I still prefer the confidence and grown-up-ness of adult characters. I’m really excited that Rowell’s next book, Landline, it going to be an adult book. I am SUPER psyched about that. I can’t wait.

And to end, let’s just recap some of my favorite quotes!

“He’s a perfectly good boyfriend,” Cath would say.

“He’s an end table,” Wren would answer.

“He’s always there for me.”

“…to set magazines on.”

———–

“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t google.) Like, where does the line start? What food can you take? Where are you supposed to stand, then were are you supposed to sit? Where do you go when you’re done, why is everyone watching you?… Bah.”

———–

“I’m not really a book person.”

“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me.”

———–

“Levi. I can carry my own gross, dirty laundry.”

“Cath. I’m not going to let you.”

———–

“Are you okay?” he asked, grinning back because he couldn’t help it. (Bless him. Bless him to infinity and beyond.)

Oh man. Now I want to re-read all of her books. I don’t write down nearly enough good quotes.

Sarah Says: 4 stars

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19 comments

  1. I’ve heard mixed things about this one, but my library has a copy, so I hope to try it out! I did really like Eleanor and Park, so hopefully I’ll like this one. 🙂

    Great review, Sarah!

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  2. I agree with you on everything! I liked the book a lot because, Rainbow Rowell! But I did think Levi a little too perfect and I didn’t love the Simon Snow sections. I think one of the things that made E&P so exceptional, was being able to see Eleanor AND Park’s experience. Seeing their flaws made their relationship that much more believable.

    Overall, though, still a fun, quick read. Always love Rowell’s wit.

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  3. I was a little eh on this one. I generally liked it and found it pretty readable, and there were lots of good quotes sprinkled throughout it. BUT despite my love of fanfiction (and Harry/Draco fanfiction in particular), this book didn’t do much for me. LIke you, I didn’t need the actual fanfic chapters/excerpts. Eleanor & Park is far more substantive and by far my favorite of hers.

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  4. I really need to remember that highlighted bits just show up normally when I read a blogpost within Feedly. Cos allllmost hit the spoiler.

    Anyway, I juuuust got this book and will hopefully be starting it this afternoon. I’m with you in that I like reading about adults more than teens (although I luuurved E&P. But I luurved Attachments too…) so I’m interested to see where this falls. And I want to see how the fanfic chapters go…

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      1. Don’t worry at all about the Feedly thing. I learned that it didn’t hold the formatting with someone else’s post so thank you for the warning about the highlighting. Cos then I knew to stop before I really hit the spoiler.

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  5. My sister just gave me my copy of this so I avoided the whited-out spoiler, but I think I’m going to wait a little while before reading this. E&P was so good, that even if this was fantastic I kind of feel like I’d end up not loving it as much because I’m still overflowing with E&P feels.

    I’m a little nervous about the Simon Snow excerpts. In some books I really like when things like that are added, in others I just seem to skip straight over them. It really depends on how well they’re worked in, but if your review is anything to go by I may end up a little lukewarm.

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  6. By now I have decided that I should probably read one of Rainbow Rowell’s books; it’s not going to be Eleanor and Park, and I’m a bit doubtful about Fangirl because the whole fanfiction thing is just so extraterrestrial of a concept for me, so I guess it’ll be Attachments instead.

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  7. Levi is preeeetty perfect, but I loved that! I’m sure he HAS his flaws, but surely one of the first parts of being in love with someone is, like, not seeing them? (Basically I loved him and I WANT HIM TO BE MINE!)

    Also, DISAGREE with your spoilery bit! I feel like Cath still had a LOT of work to do on herself even after she started dating Levi (he couldn’t even touch her!) AND I really like that that happened in the middle rather than the end because it meant that that WASN’T what everything was about- it was like, she had a boy sorted, but still had all these other things to deal with that weren’t somehow solved by the presence of a boy.

    Attachments is still totally the best though. CAN’T WAIT FOR LANDLINE!

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  8. Lots of good points here! I also felt like the Simon Snow and fanfic excerpts were a little distracting…but part of me was also sucked in by that story as well. I felt like I could sort of see into Simon Snow’s world, and I wouldn’t mind reading that series if it were a real thing!

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